The top business schools have seen what a no-test-score-needed admissions policy can do for interest in an MBA program. Further down the rankings, where such programs are more likely to have been struggling to fill seats, the smaller schools are beginning to take notice, too.
Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business is the latest to eliminate the requirement for Graduate Management Admission Test or Graduate Record Exam scores from the admissions process for its MBA and master’s portfolio. The move is effective immediately, according to a news release from the school this week.
“Three factors drove the decision to eliminate the standardized test score requirement from graduate applications to Robinson,” says Brian Jennings, Robinson associate dean for graduate programs and executive education. “GMAT/GRE scores are not necessary to predict classroom success; the tests are a barrier to entry and perpetuate systemic inequities; and test performance is immaterial to the ultimate measure – career outcomes and market demand for our students.”
ROBINSON PROMISES TO EVALUATE APPS ‘HOLISTICALLY’
The elimination of GMAT and GRE requirements for admission has been a silver lining to the pandemic for many candidates for graduate business education. It led, in 2020, to a huge jump in applications at big schools and small alike, reversing years of declines; that effect, though somewhat diminished, has lasted into 2021.
At Georgia State Robinson, waivers first became available for GMAT and GRE requirements for its MBA programs in 2018. With the onset of the pandemic, the college temporarily dropped the requirement for standardized test scores from applications to all master’s-level programs.
“We have acquired evidence-based confidence over recent years in our ability to review graduate program applicants without evaluating standardized test scores,” Jennings said. “We assess master’s programs candidates through a holistic lens, and we now have more than 1,000 data points substantiating student success in core curriculum courses. We see no discernable difference in performance between students admitted with a test score and those for whom we waived the requirement.”
The decision to eliminate graduate test scores aligns with Accelerate 2025, Robinson’s strategic plan that includes a goal to address systemic inequities in business and society, says Richard Phillips, dean of the Robinson College. “Eliminating the expense of testing fees and prep courses lowers the barrier to applying to a graduate business program, making our programs more accessible to populations who typically are underrepresented in graduate business education,” Phillips says.
WOMEN ENROLLMENT CLIMBS 73% OVER PAST 2 CYCLES
In addition to its Flexible MBA and executive MBA programs, Georgia State Robinson also offers 14 specialized master’s programs. Over the past two admissions cycles, new graduate enrollment at Robinson has grown 61%, while the growth of women has increased 73% and enrollment among historically excluded populations (HEP), comprising Alaskan native, American Indian, Black, Hispanic/Latinx, and Pacific Islander, has increased 105%.
“This isn’t an anecdotal statement; it’s based on our experience here at Robinson,” Phillips says. “We now have one of the most diverse graduate student bodies among U.S. business schools and our alumni are in demand.”
Robinson boasts some impressive post-graduate career outcomes. Salaries have risen every academic year for graduates of Robinson master’s and MBA programs and are up 10.6% since 2018, when Robinson started waiving GMAT/GRE test scores.
“Candidates who believe test scores may strengthen their application can still include GMAT or GRE results in their application materials,” Jennings says. “Students definitely have the option to present their best case for admission to the selection committee.”
Learn more about Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business GMAT/GRE policy here.